A dog trainer has warned our four-legged friends could be impacted by the restrictions put in place to combat Covid-19 due to a lack of socialising.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has resulted in residents spending extensive periods of time indoors with families buying puppies for extra company.

As a result, dogs have spent the majority of time with their owners without socialising and Paul Haylock, of Thundersley, fears the latest generation of canines will be hampered.

Paul, who owns Paul Haylock Dog Training, insists he has already seen differences in the behaviour of dogs.

He said: “I went to a job and went through the door, but the dog wouldn’t come near me.

“I am seeing that more and more and dogs who have been stuck indoors for long periods now don’t know how to interact with other dogs or people who do not live with them.

“The dog was frightened to come anywhere near me because they hadn’t had anybody other than the people that live at the address coming or going.”

Paul stressed it is vital for dog owners to allow their four-legged friends to get back to some form of normality.

He added: “The socialisation window for puppies is very small and around 85 per cent of their social and environmental skills are learnt in the first 16 weeks of their life.

“Another study saw beagle puppies having no human interaction for 13 weeks and, once that period was over, they had no idea how to cope with people.

“It blows my mind and it’s so important that dog owners return to their usual routines, or as close to it as possible, because otherwise it could have a lasting effect on their dog.”

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Paul started his dog training business a year ago but boasts a decade of experience when it comes to working with canines.

He feels dog owners have to spend time nurturing their puppies before it is too late.

Paul, 38, admitted: “It’s crucial to train your dog as much as possible in the opening 16 weeks of their life.

“It’s well documented that a large number of dogs are frightened of fireworks. But if you load videos of fireworks on YouTube and gradually put the sound up over a period of time, it’s more likely they will not become scared of them.

“To prevent your dog’s anxiety, start leaving the dog for five minutes, then 10 minutes and so on. That makes your dog realise although you leave them, you always come back.

“Finally, any new experience for a puppy has to be pleasurable.

“It’s so important to do those things at a young age and allow them to interact with other dogs and people.”